Diversity in Therapy - by BZA clinical intern Cori Shapiro

Diversity in Therapy - by BZA clinical intern Cori Shapiro

What makes you, you? What makes you unique? What are your identities? How do those identities impact the way you live your life? The answer to these questions may be based on your race, religion, culture, gender and community you grew up in. According to the 2020 census, about 43% of those surveyed identify themselves as a member of a racial or ethnic minority and about 6% identify as LGBTQ. Both percentages are significant increases since the 2010 census. As population increases, so does the importance of diversity in therapy.

Therapy is a place where one goes to feel validated, heard, seen, where one can express their most inner thoughts, and process difficult situations from the past or present. Therapy is a place where one should feel safe to be vulnerable and free from judgment. It is natural to feel that safety and have the ability to open up with someone that may have a similar background or have similar lived experiences as you. Having someone whose life somewhat aligns with your own can be beneficial, especially in therapy. You may feel more connected, heard, and understood by a therapist with a similar background.

That said, you can also greatly benefit by working with a therapist that does not share the same background as you. They may give you another point of view on certain situations that you would not see if you worked with someone who is similar to you. That is the beauty in diversity in therapy; it provides you the option to find your best fit and who you think you’ll be able to be your truest self in front of.

Priorities for Possible Therapist:

The questions below are tailored to diversity related issues one might bring to therapy.

What is your experience when it comes to working with ________ (ex. specific racial/ethnic backgrounds, religions, immigration, LGBTQ, etc.)

What training do you have in working with diverse populations?

How do you work with clients whom have experienced racism, discrimination, or immigration-related concerns?

What does it mean to you to provide culturally competent care?

What is your comfort level when it comes to talking about topics such as white privilege, racism, discrimination, or systemic oppression?

And always remember, it is okay to seek out another therapist if you feel the one you are currently working with does not suit you. Therapy is about you and being your truest self so make sure you find a therapist who fits what you need.

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